Comment: Ending wind farm subsidies will lose best minds

THE announcement of the exclusion of onshore wind projects from the Contract for Difference (CfD) regime has been met with a nervous reception by the renewable energy community. The onshore wind industry is now widely anticipating that jobs are at risk.

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

Since the announcements from the Conservative government we have been in regular contact with all the major developers of wind and solar projects in the UK. A number of these clients have cancelled scheduled interviews and new roles have been shelved on the back of this uncertainty. Many have told us that they may have to reduce current team sizes.

Taylor Hopkinson Associates, a specialist renewable energy and clean technology human resources consultancy, started expanding its operations to foreign markets as the renewable energy industry continues to boom internationally, while unclear UK renewable energy policy has in effect left parts of the domestic market paralysed.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

While many other countries have a clearly defined targets and a strategy for the development of renewable energy projects, the UK market has effectively slammed on the brakes in a space where we were leading the world. The government that came to power in coalition on a promise to be “the greenest government ever” has done nothing but chip away at the edges and undermine what has unquestionably been an industrial powerhouse in the UK in recent times while other industries struggled.

Now, thousands of skilled professionals who have invested whole careers to making renewables a mainstream and competitive form of energy generation can only stand in the road while that dream that was almost within reach speeds off into the sunset under this government.

Many of our clients have abandoned all hope in the UK and are focusing their efforts overseas. This means our best minds and talent are part of a “brain drain” in this country that will make regaining our world-leading position once this government has gone almost impossible.

Ending onshore wind farm subsidies is a major step backwards in the battle against global warming and will irreparably damage the jobs and investment opportunities in this industry in the UK

We have the best wind resource in the world and it is one the cheapest of all established renewable technologies, which makes onshore wind energy one of our main allies to fight climate change.

It does not have to be this way. The government’s political and financial support is essential in strengthening the UK energy market and helping to meet the EU renewables target set for 2020 and beyond. The ultimate aim is for renewable energy projects to become non-subsidised.

However, the short-term view being taken by the present government is jeopardising the substantial work done to date by the industry to make this a reality. «